The Jesuit Fine Arts program encompasses a wide range of artistic mediums, from stage and film, to the Jesuit Orchestra, to ceramics. Jesuit College Prep is actually one of the few high schools in the country that is considered a museum for the visual arts, evidenced by the numerous amounts of drawings and paintings displayed around campus. Jesuit carries art by various artists, including Salvador Dali and Robert Rauschenberg. While Jesuit displays art from well-known artists, Jesuit also contains art created by its own students. One student in particular is taking advantage of this opportunity. Spencer Vilicic ’17 is a Jesuit art student gifted with incredible artistic ability. Vilicic creates art from a variety of mediums, including oil pastels, paints, and even the iPad! Spencer has spent his past year at Jesuit creating various art pieces and trying to improve the Jesuit Art Program by creating the Art Club and presenting his own art here in Dallas. He displayed his art recently at Valley View Mall Art Gallery, showing off several of his own original works, including one ofchesire cat the Cheshire Cat, which he calls The Alice?, and his popular Eye drawing, called Human Studies I: Look Harder.  Michael Miramontes ’18 had the pleasure of interviewing Vilicic to learn more about his art and some of his other interests.

Michael Miramontes: “What kind of art do you like?”

Spencer Vilicic: “I would say my favorite… Medium is paint, just because of all the different methods implemented into creating the painting. There’s different kinds of paintings—watercolors, acrylic, oil—that all have different substances making them up and different ways to be using them, and out of those paints oil paint is my favorite because of all the different textures you can get out of an oil paint; it can be very thick, it can be very thin. It’s good for blending, and good for layering on. Also, oil paint is one of the most widely used paints because it has been used for centuries.

M: “How did you get interested in art?”

S: “I was interested for a long time… We, we as in me and anyone my age that I went to school with in elementary school, we took art classes… starting in kindergarten. It was required by the school. Kindergarten through 6th grade, we went to art classes weekly but in 7th grade and beginning 8th grade, my school didn’t offer any art classes, so I sort of forgot about it. But in 8th grade I had the chance to take an elective art class, and I did, and I was really interested and I found that art was sort of… a release for me. A hobby, a passion of mine. So then, in 9th grade, I decided to take art classes here at Jesuit, and I got back into it.”

M: “What was the first art piece you made?”

S: “The first art piece I made… I don’t have with me but the first art piece I made was an eye… a drawing of an eye I made in Drawing 1 for a project about line and shading [presents photo of the eye] and the assignment Mr. Harmon gave to us and said, ‘Find a picture on the internet in black and white, and draw it.’ So I chose this one, and it took about 9 hours, and I persevered and I came out with this:

spencer eye
Human Studies I: Look Harder

M: “Wow… what grade did you get?”

S: “I think I got a 100 on it… he was pretty lenient”

M: “Tell me about your art showing.”

S: “This past weekend I had a gallery set-up in Valley View Mall… I brought 6 pieces of mine to show… It went pretty well, I had a lot of people I invited show up including Mr. Hanley, Mr. Harmon, Mr. Lugo, Father Jay, and Mr. Reese. It was pretty eye-opening, seeing that my art was accepted by a community of people who have been doing art for longer than I’ve been alive, and also knowing that as a young artist, I still have an opportunity to get out there and be seen and make an impact. Selling art to random strangers, I never thought I’d be able to do that.”

M: “What are your other interests and hobbies?”

S: “In addition to art, I really enjoy music… drumming mainly. I’m on the drum line, and I also play drum set a lot at home. I go to concerts a lot, I write music reviews, so yeah… music is a big part of my life as well.”

M: “How did your art first get noticed?”

S: “I think my art first got noticed here at Jesuit through the eye project that I did. I was featured on the Jesuit Roundup homepage, and then it was later used in the freshman introduction video… [long pause] and that’s how I got noticed here, and then again with a cat I drew for the iPad art contest last year. I think that’s when I really came into the public eye with this [shows the Cat Drawing]. Actually, at the past gallery showing, this was the most popular piece I had… people really liked it. One person said that it was his favorite rendition of the Cheshire Cat, so that meant a lot.”

The Alice?

M: “Tell me about the art you draw on an iPad.”

S: “It’s a lot different than painting or drawing with pencils or charcoal or pastels or anything like that. I can manipulate a lot more factors at once. With the background, I can change the background color at any time. I have different brushes that serve different purposes, like you can do spray paint as well as make abstract patterns like hexagons or circles or flowers or anything like that, as well as being able to get very fine detail because I can zoom in and do lots of cool effects, like I can change how much of an object you see, or I can actually move an object. Say I draw a person on one side of the paper; I can move it to the other with one swift gesture.”

M: “Do you have any role models?”

S: “My role model with doing art and actually being interested in it is my brother, who took art in high school. He was more of a… I guess you could call it a ‘closet artist,’ he just doodled in class, but they were amazing. I saw some; we were going through some of his old boxes of art he had. They were from stuff that I didn’t even know existed. They blew my mind, so I saw there that you didn’t even have to be recognized as an artist to make amazing art. So then I decided, ‘Why not give it a shot?’ My passion from art at Jesuit came from Mr. Harmon teaching me in Drawing 1. With each project he just told me I could really do it, I could improve, and I kept improving with the skills he gave me. He’s really driven me. He helped me form the Art Club, along with Edward Talatala. They were the two inspirations for starting the Art Club and keeping that going.”

M: “When you’re painting, what are the thoughts going through your head?”

S: “When I’m painting, a lot of what goes on in my head is irrelevant to painting, because when I’m doing art I sort of go on autopilot. I find that thinking about what I’m doing when I’m drawing art really messes me up. It’s muscle memory, like baseball. You learn how to swing, so then you stop thinking about swinging whenever you’re swinging the baseball bat. Once you do start to think about swinging the baseball bat you mess up. So really I just sort of… I get in the zone when I’m doing my art, and just let it take me wherever it goes.”

M: “What is your favorite art piece that you’ve made so far?”

S: “My favorite art piece… probably this cat [presents Cheshire Cat drawing]. I really like this. ”

M: “How’d you make it?”

S: “How’d I make it? Well, first I drew the cat, then I drew all these designs inside of it. Because of digital painting, I was able to draw one individual piece of the design, then multiply it then put it into one space. After getting the cat and all the designs, then I colored it beneath the design. My favorite piece I’m working on right now is this painting of a city at night in the rain. It’s very abstract, but I think if you squint a little from a distance you can sort of see it. There’s a person there [points to the painting] and some cars.”

M: “Who are the people in life that support your art career?”

S: “Mainly my parents. They’ve really been the driving force behind me doing all of this. They’ve been right there with me getting gallery setups. I spent four plus hours a day cutting mats and gluing them to mounts along the trim of the pictures, and taping them to the mats, getting everything printed and all of that. Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to fund any of it. They really want to see me to succeed, they want to help me.”

M: “How has your childhood influenced the things you paint?”

S: “I guess having done those art classes in elementary school has given me the backbone, the knowledge to do art. Other than that it doesn’t have an effect on what art I make right now.”

M: “How does your family feel about your art career?”

S: “They sort of see it, and I do too, as a supplementary kind of thing. A hobby, just a hobby. I wouldn’t put my entire career into doing art, just knowing that it’s a risky business, that it’s dangerous. My art could be accepted, it could not be. Actually, two weeks ago I was at an art festival, a food truck a-palooza, where I was displaying some of my art to advertise to people who wanted digital portraits made. I actually didn’t sell anything there, but I made a few clients and made some connections so I can start advertising to those people, but at that moment I didn’t sell anything… it’s difficult.”

M: “That was another one of my questions… one of them was ‘Do you see a career for yourself in the art field?'”

S: “Again, it’s a hobby. Maybe… not a career but I guess make art and sell it on the side. Or not sell it, just make it. It’s fun, it’s something I need in my life, but it’s something I can’t base my life off of.”

M: “How has Jesuit influenced your art?”

S: “Jesuit has influenced my art… [long pause] in every way. From the classes I take with Mr. Harmon helping me create the Art Club with Mr. Howard helping me learn how to mat… everything’s really coming together at Jesuit.”

M: “Finally, what is your motivation for art?”

S: “My motivation for the art is… knowing that someone will appreciate it. Whether it’s someone I don’t know or whether it’s my parents or my art teacher or if it’s just me, I do it so the art can be appreciated.”

M: “That is all, thank you for your time.”


Michael Amadeus Miramontes, a dashing yet clever fellow, lives in Allen, Texas. Currently he attends the University of Notre Dame. Prior to his time at Jesuit, he attended an Allen public middle school. Aside from The Roundup, Michael was the president of Interact, Vice President of JCL, 3-Time Allstate Musician for his beloved instrument, the clarinet, and likewise played in the Jesuit-Ursuline-Ranger-Band. He's also heavily involved in his parish, and makes Quizlets that are renowned by many. Michael would like to thank his Mom and Dad as well as coffee for getting him through High School.